Rafael Nadal, a 20-time Grand Slam tournament winner, will not compete in 21st place at Wimbledon this year, he announced on Thursday. He also retired from the Olympics, becoming the newest elite athlete, suggesting that post-pandemic condensed sports plans were asking too much of their biggest stars.
“Hi everyone, I have decided not to take part in this year’s championships at Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics,” he wrote in a series of posts on Twitter. “It’s never an easy decision, but after listening to my body and talking to my team about it, I understand it is the right decision.”
“The goal is to extend my career and continue to do what makes me happy, namely to compete at the highest level and continue to fight for these professional and personal goals at the highest level.”
Nadal has struggled with injuries during his career and Wimbledon is played on grass, a surface that is not his favorite. (He only won twice there and will have missed the event three times since 2009.) The Tokyo Olympics are played on hard courts.
Nadal last skipped the US Open in New York last year because he had concerns about the coronavirus.
As the reason for his withdrawal, Nadal cited the brief turnaround between the French Open and Wimbledon and said it would not give him enough time to recover.
Nadal, 35, had a memorable French Open semi-final against Novak Djokovic last week. To win the tournament for the 14th time, Nadal won the first set before eventually losing in four. Djokovic won the tournament.
Nadal, Djokovic and Roger Federer, 39, are fighting for the most individual Grand Slam titles for men. Nadal and Federer have 20 and Djokovic has 19. No other player has more than 14.
Nadal has competed in three previous Olympics and won the gold medal in singles in Beijing in 2008. In 2016 he carried the Spanish flag at the opening ceremony in Rio de Janeiro.